Life Advice



Parents are upset over mess of their own making

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My 19-year-old son has had an issue his whole life: He never cleans his room!

We started giving him an allowance when he was 10, but we didn't give him the allowance if he didn't do his homework or clean his room. So he didn't.

We have given him a car, and the freedom to do whatever he wants, if only he would keep his room free of trash, but it hasn't worked. His car is trashed, too!

We would like to sell the house, but his bedroom floor is now warped and the walls are ruined.

He has a college fund and extra money. He works part time. He says he can't work more hours, due to school, but he still skips classes.

We've said he needs to decide if he wants to go away for school and move out next fall.


I left home when I was 17. I worked full time. It took me 25 years to get my degree. My husband did it when he was 18. We would prefer to support him through his goals. Any ideas on how to get him to respect us enough to clean his room and car? -- Furious Mom

Dear Mom: Let's review: You chose to (essentially) pay your son to do his homework and clean his room (things he should do, anyway). And because you tied his allowance to these things, his logic was, "Why bother doing homework and cleaning my room? I don't need any allowance. Because I'm 10!"

You and your husband are still treating your son like he is 10, providing everything -- except consequences. Now you are blaming him for being a lazy slob. Your choices as parents have created this mess. This is on you.

Give your son the advantage that you had at his age -- of being on his own, supporting himself and figuring things out.


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